Whether you huff and puff on the treadmill or the streets, walking or running torches calories to help you hold on to your girlish physique. As a general rule, you'll burn about the same number of calories walking, but slightly more calories running quickly, on concrete than on the treadmill; however, a bit of tweaking to your treadmill workout can help you catch up.
As you speed across the concrete, you feel the wind blow through your hair -- not so on the treadmill, as instead of traveling across the ground, the ground comes to meet you. This means you experience wind resistance on concrete, which may force you to work harder and therefore burn more calories than on the treadmill. In an interview with "Running Times," researcher Jonathan Doust, Ph.D., reported that at speeds above 8 mph, wind resistance can significantly affect calorie burning. However, you can make up the difference by setting the treadmill incline to a 1- to 2-percent grade.
Wind resistance aside, the incline feature allows you to increase calorie burning any time it suits your fancy -- so you can potentially burn even more calories at the same speed on the treadmill than on concrete. By raising the incline to a gentle 3-percent grade, a 150-pound person walking at 4 mph will burn nearly 60 more calories in 30 minutes than she would with no incline; running at 6 mph, she'll burn nearly 90 more calories with that incline than on flat ground.
The air conditioning at the gym may feel refreshing on hot days, but exercising in the warm outdoors can increase your calorie burn slightly, according to the American Council on Fitness, because your body must pump more blood to your skin's surface to keep you cool. In contrast, you don't burn more calories exercising in cold weather -- the activity itself is typically enough to keep you warm with no extra effort. Despite the calorie boost, performing heavy exercise in sizzling temperatures is a recipe for heat stroke, so stay inside when the sun is blazing.
Cardio Exercise Planning
The number of calories you burn in the long term matters more than your expenditure in a single workout. To ensure weight-loss success, fit walking into your schedule 150 to 300 minutes per week. Running is more vigorous, so you only need half as much to do the job -- aim for 75 to 150 weekly minutes, whether you choose concrete or the treadmill. If you're beginning a new program, start out at a comfortable pace and slowly build a more challenging routine. And see your doctor first if you have any medical conditions.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.